How to Get Ready for Ski Season & Expand Your Winter Adventures

As the first snow starts to fall in Colorado, our attention starts to turn towards the mountains. Thoughts of skis or boards ready to go and riding big mountain lines is at the forefront of our minds and frontal lobe. Throughout the year, many of us have been waiting for that magical moment when the first snow hits, and it’s just about time to shake off the summer and start thinking about what’s ahead in the backcountry. Not only is it important to be physically fit and ready, but also important to refresh or learn new skills to keep you safe and open up the backcountry in the winter. Some great options to keep you safe and happy in the winter environment: avalanche awareness and AIARE Avalanche courses (level 1 course, level 2 course, and avalanche rescue), having the right gear, and knowing where to look for the best conditions.

Here is our guide to getting ready for ski season and operating in the accident prevention paradigm (photo)

Getting In Shape – Make a plan and keep committed to that plan 

Mountain Fall Training for Ski Season - Colorado Wilderness Rides And Guides
Mountain Fall Training for Ski Season – Colorado Wilderness Rides And Guides

It’s committing but not impossible to get in the best shape for ski season. It’s a good idea to plan towards the end of summer to the fall to start thinking about what the fitness goals are. Think about endurance training, focused on the legs and core, and consistently up the reps to where there’s comfort in longer durations of activity. Exercise bikes, elliptical, and ski machines make for great training. Consider cross training with other activities such as mountain biking, trail running or long hikes, as these provide the perfect balance of stamina and endurance training for long days on the trail. While beneficial, weight training is less of a focus than ensuring the ability to move uphill for long periods of time.


Get Educated – Education is a lifelong process

AIARE level 1 Course
AIARE level 1 Course – Colorado Wilderness Rides And Guides

Whether you’re a first time or veteran backcountry traveller, there’s always time to improve your education or get started. Especially when it comes to avalanche conditions and awareness. Each year in North America, avalanches kill over 40-people, and one of the most essential skills for travelling in any backcountry environment is to know the dangers of avalanche territory and know how to avoid them, and how to save your partners should the unthinkable happen. Colorado Wilderness Rides and Guides is a provider of AIARE Level I, AIARE Level II, and Avalanche Rescue Courses, as well as hosting a number of free Avalanche Awareness courses in Denver, Boulder, and Broomfield.

AIARE Level 1 Avalanche Education Course - Colorado Wilderness Rides And Guides
AIARE Level 1 Avalanche Education Course – Colorado Wilderness Rides And Guides

AIARE level I Avalanche courses – Backcountry Decision Making

  • November 29 – December 2 2018 – Boulder / RMNP
  • December 5, 6, 8, 9 2018 –  Boulder / RMNP
  • December 12, 13, 15, 16 2018 – Boulder / RMNP
  • December 12, 13, 15, 16 2018 – Loveland – RMNP (Jax Sporting Goods)
  • January 9, 10, 12, 13 2019 – Boulder / RMNP
  • January 23, 24, 26, 27 2019 – Boulder / RMNP
  • February 6, 7, 9, 10 2019 – Boulder / RMNP
  • February 20, 21, 23, 24 2019 – Boulder / RMNP
  • March 6, 7, 9, 10 2019 – Broomfield / Denver / RMNP  (Jax Sporting Goods)
  • Level 1 Courses are two evening lectures (6 pm – 10 pm) Wednesday and Thursday nights. Then all day Saturday and Sunday in the field. Courses are designed so one does not need to miss work or take PTO and still able to attend.
  • Here is our 2018 / 2019 AIARE level 1 avalanche course schedule – register today 


AIARE level II – Expanding your backcountry terrain and risk management

Avalanche Rescue – Making sure your rescue skills are current and sharp – scenario based

Avalanche Awareness Course – Free two-hour introduction lectures

  • Thursday October 18th, 2018 – Rab Denver
  • Thursday October 25th 2018 – Moosejaw Boulder
  • Tuesday November 13th, 2018 – Jax Broomfield
  • Here is our upcoming lectures 


Get the Gear – What gear will make you warm and help with safety 

BCA Avalanche Gear - Testing in Progress - Colorado Wilderness Rides And Guides
BCA Avalanche Gear – Testing in Progress – Colorado Wilderness Rides And Guides

After taking your avalanche course, it’s essential to travel with the right gear to keep you safe. Our favorite’s are the BCA Tracker 2 Beacon, Stealth Probe, and B-1 Avalanche Shovel, which are lightweight, easy to learn and use, and don’t take up pack space. Having the right combination of weight, durability, and functionality is going to keep you going for long periods of time without feeling bogged down.


Find the Best Snow Conditions – Explore the backcountry and avoid the I-70 traffic 

Formation - Colorado Wilderness Rides And Guides
Surface Hoar Snow Formation – Colorado Wilderness Rides And Guides

As well as how to read conditions it’s important to know where’s the best place to find the right conditions. The Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC) posts a daily advisory of avalanche conditions across the state, with an excellent map that displays the current conditions and advisories with an easy to read map. Colorado SNOTEL data displays the current depth data, with an average peak median date and is best for seeing where the deepest conditions lie: We also have a handy conditions tool on our website, that allows you that allows you to find everything from daily weather to daily snow reports all season long:

This is sure to save you a day of research on finding wind data for wind slab problems in front range mountains:  Daily Snow Report

(We recommend bookmarking this link – we spent 1 day researching and creating this page to save you time). This page has valuable wind data to assess our number 2 winter avalanche problem – wind slab avalanches.


Be aware, be safe, and be ready for winter. It’s a lot of fun, but it’s also dangerous. As our owner and lead guide often says to guides in training and many of our guests: “Just because you love the mountains, it does not mean the mountains love you!”

For more information about our programs, call us at 720-242-9828.

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